The next installment of the Rocky franchise officially has a new director, and will begin shooting here in Philadelphia early next year.
Steven Caple Jr. will replace Creed director Ryan Coogler on Creed II, Variety reports. Coogler, who previously directed 2015's Creed, will instead serve as an executive producer for the film, though that deal has reportedly not yet closed.
Earlier this year, Rocky star Sylvester Stallone had said he would direct Creed II, but retreated from the role after speaking with executives at MGM and Warner Bros., as well as Creed star Michael B. Jordan. Caple Jr. was selected to helm the film "after a lengthy search," according to Variety.
Jordan, who played Adonis Johnson, son of Apollo Creed, in the original Creed congratulated Caple Jr. on social media:
Jordan will return for Creed II alongside Stallone and Tessa Thompson, who played Bianca, Adonis' love interest in Creed. The film reportedly will be written by Stallone and Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker.
According to IMDB, the film's plot will revolve around Adonis exacting revenge on Russian boxer Ivan Drago, who killed Apollo Creed during a fight in Rocky IV — a plot Stallone teased over the summer. Dolph Lundgren, who portrayed Drago in that film, was rumored to be returning for Creed II earlier this year, according to Maxim.
Creed II will serve as Caple Jr.'s first major studio film, according to Variety. Previously, Caple Jr. directed the IFC-released film, The Land, which caught the attention of executives and Creed II cast members. The flick follows a group of teenage boys as they attempt to leave Cleveland in pursuit of becoming professional skateboarders.
Production on Creed II, meanwhile, is set to begin here in Philadelphia in March 2018. The film is currently scheduled to be released Nov. 21, 2018.